The brown-headed cowbirds have returned to Massachusetts, in this case from Florida, Baja, and Mexico. I photographed the one shown as Figure 1, a male, on the grounds of the Visitors’ Center at the Assabet River Wildlife refuge. Here is a bird that has benefited from human building. They were once confined to the grasslands of the Midwest, but as forests were cleared for human building and agriculture, they have surged in number. They are famous for their “odd” approach to reproduction. All of their reproductive energy is concentrated on egg production – perhaps as many as three dozen a summer. These they lay in the nests of other birds to be reared by foster parents, often to the detriment of their foster siblings. This, I believe, explains the origin of the genus name as a probable modification of Greek molobros meaning “greedy fellow.”
I continue to experiment with my big zoom hand-held with image stabilization. Still I am quite clumsey with it. Here I went up to 350 mm and got reasonable sharpness. The fun of bird photography for me continues to be the challenge. I saw several species of birds on the crisp windy morning: Tree Swallows, Chickadees, a Great Blue Heron, a Cooper’s hawk, Canadian Geese, Mallards, Common Mergansers, Robins, Blue Jays, and these Brown-headed Cowbirds. Of the photographs that I took this was the one that I was most pleased with.
Canon T2i with EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM at 350 mm, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority AE mode 1/4000th sec at f/7.1 with no exposure compensation.